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Davis Thompson wins John Deere Classic with lowest score in tournament history

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SILVIS, Ill. (AP) — Davis Thompson had been working toward a moment like this, and he wasn’t about to let anything stop him — not a soft golf course that produced the best scores of the week, not the pressure of trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

He started with a two-shot lead. Six holes into the final round Sunday, Thompson had five birdies and had stretched his lead to six shots and was on his way to a four-shot victory, a spot in the next three majors and the lowest 72-hole score in the John Deere Classic.

“I’m just thankful it worked out. I got off to a great start today and was able to just kind of cruise on the back nine,” Thompson said after closing with a 7-under 64. “Getting off to a good start was crucial, and I was just able to ride the momentum coming in.”

Thompson made a 45-foot birdie putt on the first hole for a three-shot lead, and no one got closer to him the rest of the way.

The 25-year-old from Georgia finished at 28-under 256 to break by one the John Deere Classic record set by Michael Kim in 2018.

“I just wanted to stay aggressive,” Thompson said. “I knew there would be low scores out there today because the wind kind of died down and the conditions were a little soft. So I knew I was going to have to go play well. Thankfully, I made a great putt on 1 and had a great up and down on 2 and kept the ball rolling.”

The victory gets him into the next three majors, starting with the British Open in two weeks at Royal Troon. He also will make his Masters debut next April.

Thompson is the 24th player to get his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic, the most of any tournament dating to 1970.

The final hour was all about who would finish second and earn the other spot to the British Open. That went to C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who birdied the 16th and 17th holes and finished with a two-putt par from 20 feet for a 64.

But a pair of youngsters made him sweat it out.

Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 63 and was the first to get to 24 under. Michael Thorbjornsen, the No. 1 player in the PGA Tour University ranking after finishing at Stanford, hit out of a fairway bunker to 18 feet and made the birdie putt for a 63 to join Clanton.

With a three-way tie for second, the British Open spot went to Pan based on the world ranking.

“Honestly going to be hectic to arrange all the travel details last minute, but it will be a good problem to have,” Pan said.

Clanton, meanwhile, became the first amateur since Billy Joe Patton in 1958 to finish in the top 10 in consecutive PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments. Patton was low amateur at the Masters and the U.S. Open that year. Clanton tied for 10th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week.

Clanton’s last two weeks would have been worth just over $804,000 if he had been pro.

“We came into the week with pretty high expectations I guess you could say after last week,” Clanton said. “I think I kind of reached that expectation for sure. Of course you want to win. But again, to do what I did out there today was awesome.”

As for the winner, that was never in doubt. Along with that 45-foot birdie putt to start, Thompson rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 5 and had seven birdies through 10 holes.

He finally dropped a shot on the par-4 12th, and Thorbjornsen looked to have a chance to at least make it interesting. The Massachusetts native ran off six straight birdies and was playing the reachable par-4 14th. But his drive went well to the right and he hit a heavy chip to some 35 feet. He three-putted for bogey, missing a 4-foot par putt.

Thompson is in his second year on the PGA Tour and he was a runner-up last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. His hope was to keep the momentum going.

Perhaps his choice of lodging played a role, too.

Several players from Georgia have been renting a house near the John Deere Classic for the last few years. J.T. Poston stayed there when he won the Deere two years ago. Sepp Straka stayed in the house last year and won.

Straka brought his wife and young son with him this year and gave up his room to Thompson.

“I think I have to pay for the whole house, which is unfortunate,” Thompson said with a smile. “But I’ll gladly write the check for that.”

The victory was worth $1,440,000. It also moves Thompson to No. 22 in the FedEx Cup standings, all but assuring he will be in all the signature events next year.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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